From Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Ronda Lyn Spauldin, Naval Support Activity Mid-South Public Affairs
MILINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- More than 40 Millington-area residents displaced by the May 1 storm and subsequent flooding in Shelby County spent the night at an American Red Cross shelter staged in Naval Support Activity(NSA) Mid-South's North 82 gymnasium May 7.
According to Adam Lindsey, American Red Cross Shelter supervisor at the North 82 gymnasium shelter, the shelter was relocated to NSA Mid-South after a previous facility became unavailable.
"Any time there's any type of natural disaster, the American Red Cross comes and sets up shelters for those in need, to house people when they have nowhere else to go," he said. "There is still a large need for shelter in this area, and the U.S. Navy allowed us to use this facility; this was so generous of them, and we were overwhelmed."
A May 1 storm and severe flooding caused the displacement of hundreds of Millington-area residents. As a result, several counties in Tennessee have been declared disaster areas. Red Cross personnel established a shelter at the First Baptist Church in Millington, but needed to relocate their services when the church became unavailable, reaching out to NSA Mid-South.
Capt. Doug McGowen, NSA Mid-South commanding officer, said assisting others in need remains at the forefront of Navy values and ethics, saying the Sailors assigned to the base and it's numerous tenant commands are helping in the community in any way they can.
"Sailors here are like Sailors everywhere – willing to help others in a time of need," he said. "With the great need to shelter those displaced by the flooding and the large building we had available, it became a priority for us to ensure these Millington residents had a roof over their head."
Lindsey agreed, saying Sailors were helping Red Cross volunteers with support coordinated through the NSA Mid-South Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC).
"They [the Sailors and FFSC] have helped us so much," he said. "We're expecting more [displaced residents] to come simply because people put themselves up in hotels using their own funds, but that will wear out and as it does, they'll come here for shelter. Our main service we're offering is shelter -if someone needs a place to stay, we've got that and we provide three hot meals a day."
NSA Mid-South FFSC personnel have provided a liaision between the Red Cross and the base, something eased by classes the department's personnel attended last year, according to Elaine Horrell, NSA Mid-South FFSC director.
"There was a lot of forethought on the team," she said. "We have practiced and drilled for this, and we had people take Red Cross shelter training this past year. We had the Red Cross come out and tell us how they do it, so we were prepared in that sense, and then we just went in to action."
Timelines for the shelter haven't been established, according to McGowen, but Red Cross personnel said they have been amazed at the outpouring of generosity from NSA Mid-South Sailors.
"The U.S. Navy has provided us this great facility, giving us the ability to provide housing for people," Lindsey said. "There are Sailors standing watch and pretty much anything we need they've been here to help us. It would be very difficult for us to do this without the help of the Navy. Thank you to the U.S. Navy for their assistance; the Red Cross is very appreciative."
Since its founding in 1881 by visionary leader Clara Barton, the American Red Cross has been the nation's premier emergency response organization. As part of a worldwide movement that offers neutral humanitarian care to the victims of war, the American Red Cross distinguishes itself by also aiding victims of devastating natural disasters. Over the years, the organization has expanded its services, always with the aim of preventing and relieving suffering.
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